Revenge is, as they say, sweet. And yeah, I realize it’s also said that ‘living well is the best revenge’, but I don’t know, that seems like more of a long-term plan. Sometimes, as Otter aptly declared in Animal House, the situation just requires a really “futile and stupid gesture.” My best? In my twenties I, along with my friend and co-conspirator Chin, once mailed a dead chipmunk, fortuitously supplied by one of my prowling outdoor cats, to a guy whose shameful timidity had needlessly thwarted what could have been some great spontaneous weekend plans. Nowadays I’d probably get arrested for walking that rancid smelling shoebox into the Post Office as I did, and shipping it standard parcel post to Chicago. But still, I look back on that act decades later with nothing but unmitigated pride. Futile. Stupid. And a fair amount of immaturity helped too. But sometimes you’ve just got to make the gesture.
Yet, I sure never wrote a song about it. And so along the same lines, I find “revenge songs” to be an often amusing category. There obviously have been many, and in them many notable sentiments: Alanis Morrisette’s back-scratching nails in ‘You Oughta Know’; Carrie Underwood’s automobile abuse in ‘Before He Cheats’; Beyonce putting everything in a box to the left in ‘Irreplaceable’; and straight-out homicide by the Dixie Chicks in ‘Goodbye Earl.’ I like them all. But for me, nothing can quite match the magnificent directness of Cee Lo Green, whose ultra-terse retort to a gold-digging former sweetheart is simply “fuck you.” Not to mention it’s about the catchiest tune I’ve ever heard. What a joy it is to drive around with the windows down belting out the soaring chorus of this modern Motown-style masterwork while simultaneously horrifying innocent passers-by. A fine gesture indeed.